Originally launched in 2007, Hip H’opera is a collaborative program between Art Sanctuary and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. The three-phase project takes teaching artists and workshops to more than 100 students and their teachers in seven schools. They learn the history and aesthetics of hip-hop and opera, genres that use the human voice to tell profound stories, and then, using poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, these students capture their own urban stories.
The initial pieces, which premiered in 2008, were work shopped with young librettists, and then performed, first as poetry by the teens, then in musical form by opera singers, a string quartet, a pianist, and intergenerational chorus. Hip-H’Opera sold out two local performances.
In 2013, professionals will craft the students’ new work into an opera for production in the fall of 2014 Students will have an opportunity to work with a librettist, dramaturge, producer, composer, and choreographer while mounting the final production. They will also be involved in such technical areas as set design and costuming.
The program is expected to become a national model for bridging genres and bringing new energy to inner-city music study.